September 14, 2004

X-37 = SpaceShipTwo?

MSNBC and the Desert News report that Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites will be responsible for carrying the X-37 technology demonstrator to altitude for test drops.

Contrary to the first report in the Desert News, Scaled has not yet confirmed whether the White Knight will be the ship that carries the X-37, as it does SpaceShipOne.

I find this very interesting, given Rutan's recent statements about developing an orbital analogue of SpaceShipOne as the next step in his business plan. I also find it interesting that the program has been transferred from NASA to an "unnamed government agency."

This is one to watch, folks.

Update: According to Keith Cowing's source, the "unnamed agency" is DARPA.

Update: And here's more from on the X-37 program and its transfer to DARPA.

Posted by JohnL at September 14, 2004 10:21 PM

Scaled Composites built the X-37 vehicle for NASA, btw, on a contract that is at least as old as the Tier One program, so it isn't SpaceShipTwo. SS2 is supposed to be a bit over twice the size of SS1, and will require a whole new mothership, twice the size of White Knight, be built to carry it. X-37 is meant to test a design for an unmanned satellite launcher and associated technologies, which is significantly different from a 9 passenger suborbital tourist vehicle.

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